Home insulation can evoke feelings of dread when you think about the price, but with energy prices soaring, and the pressure on the environment to cope with our constant appetite for energy, we wanted to find out if there was a solution that suited our pockets and the planet.
Windows are the obvious place to start if you want to insulate your home in the winter, as between 35 and 40% of heat loss occurs through them. Keeping cozy could be simple if you use just a few of the inexpensive methods that we are sharing below.
Before we get started it is vital to mention that using heaters means that you will need plenty of ‘combustion air’ in a room, in order to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. You can find out more on this following link.
Lack of adequate combustion air causes improper heater operation, increased maintenance cost, and risks dangerous production of carbon monoxide gas.
Now we have covered that, we can move on to the different ways that you can choose to insulate your windows this winter.
You may not realize this, but simply locking your windows can make a real difference when it comes to retaining heat. The locking mechanism on some sash windows in particular pushes the bottom window down a touch and the top one up a touch. It could be enough to make a tight seal and prevent cold air from creeping into your room.
Simply using curtains or blinds significantly reduces the loss of heat through your windows. A naked window can do no good when it comes to insulation.
You can boost the benefit through layering (blinds, curtains and pelmets for example), using a heavy material and sealing the edges of the curtains, making sure that a layer of air is trapped against the glass.
Curtains can be custom made to fit each window perfectly and can be styled to match your decor. They can however be very expensive, and are certainly not the cheapest option.
Cellular or honeycomb shades create multiple pockets of air against the window, and also let some light in. They need to be custom made though to fit your window space and as such work out to be more expensive than the DIY methods mentioned here.
However, when it comes to effectiveness, they do not reduce heat loss as much as thicker materials.
This suggestion must be one of the cheapest, reusable ways, and it is so quick and easy, you will wonder why you haven’t thought of it before.
Bubble wrap insulates beautifully, while allowing light into a room. People claim that it can keep a room up to 4 degrees warmer than it otherwise would be without the popping plastic.
To make your own bubble wrap insulation is very simple. To start you simply cut a piece to fit each window perfectly. Then just dampen the glass, and apply the bubble wrap…..flat side to the window.
If it begins to unstick you need only re-dampen the window and re-apply the wrap.
When the weather warms up again you can remove the bubble wrap with no fuss, and then roll up again ready for the next cold snap. It makes sense to label each section so that you know which window it came from.
This is a very low cost option that takes a few minutes and can make a massive difference. The GIY video below shows step by step how to create your own secondary double glazing using plastic sheeting. You won’t believe how professional it looks at the end.
Windows are the weakest link (thermally speaking) in your house. An uninsulated window is brilliant at cooling down all the lovely warm air in your house.
To stop this you have to insulate them – a layer of still air is best. In this GIY project we insulate a timber sash window with window insulation film.
It is affordable, easy and really makes a difference.
One thing you really want to avoid if you are trying to save energy and warmth, is air leakage. Both cold air coming into the room and warm air escaping.
The best way to see if this is a problem for you is to wait for a cold windy day, and then slowly walk around your windows with an incense stick, watching for any unexpected movement in the smoke.
If you find any leaks there are a few ways that you can plug them up.
The following video from the University of Maine has some fantastic low cost ideas for eliminating pesky air leaks.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension talks about how to save energy with inexpensive solutions for insulating windows. Tips and demonstrations on using tools such as bubble wrap, plastic, painters tape, and cardboard to make your own indoor shutters.
Caulking is great and cheap way to stop air leaks around windows, but only on non moving parts, for example where the frame meets the wall. It can be applied to the inside and outside of the window.
It’s low price and effectiveness make this a great investment.
Weather stripping can be applied in gaps on moving parts of windows. It is ideal for air leaks between the sash and frame, and also where the sash windows meet. This foam can also be used underneath the sash.
Some people try to prevent heat loss through windows using quilted bedspreads. The thick material is a wonderful insulator and the bedspreads are relatively inexpensive.
To make yours, just cut the bedspreads to size leaving around 4 inches around each side. Tension rods are used on each of the 4 edges, and the quilt is hemmed around them.
They can simply be placed up against the windows, and can be pulled aside and tied up to let light in.
A short term solution is to place plastic sticky insulation film on the windows. This can be applied both inside and outside of the windows and does reduce the rate of heat loss. There are pros and cons to using this method.
Using plastic film inside the windows: reduces heat loss, but the glue can damage paint work on the frame.
Using plastic film outside the windows: reduce air filtration, but it may frost over and become opaque.
If you have some budget available for your windows you can replace the sashes and reglaze, which, while expensive is significantly cheaper than replacing the entire window.
A draft excluder is a good idea to place on the windowsill, and can prevent air seepage that may occur underneath the window. You can make your own quite easily. We have shared step by step instruction below so that you can give it a go.
The National Trust has a great step by step guide to making your own cosy draught excluder.
You will need:
• Fabric: Cut to the length of your door frame and between 35-40cm wide.
• Fabric scissors
• Thread matching your fabric
• Stuffing (why not use old laddered tights which can by re-cycled into great stuffing. Otherwise you can buy stuffing from craft shops)
• Sewing machine
• Decorations – e.g. buttons or ribbon
- Make sure you have a piece of fabric that is just longer than the door frame in which you are going to place your finished draft excluder, and between 35 and 40 cm wide. This could be a piece of fabric you have left over from another project, or from an item of clothing you no longer need.
- Fold your fabric in half lengthways, making sure the side of the fabric you want to be showing is on the inside.
- Pin down the length of your fabric and along one end to create an open tube, ensuring the fabric stays in place for the next step.
- If you’ve not quite cut a rectangle you could use a tape measure to place the pins in a straight line and then trim off the excess fabric.
- Sew the pinned sides, either by hand or using a sewing machine, removing the pins as you go. As you remove the pins, hold the fabric to keep it straight. Sew as close into the corners as you can, so that they look tidy when turned inside out.
- Once step four is complete, turn your open tube inside out so that now the side of the fabric that you want to be seen is on the outside. Dependent on what type of fabric you are using, you may want to iron down the seams at this point.
- Insert your chosen stuffing into the tube. If you are using old tights, be sure to shred them to make your finished draught excluder less lumpy.
- When your tube is full, carefully sew up the end by hand, being as neat as you can.
- Now you have a fully functional draught excluder, you may wish to add some decorative touches. You could easily cut and create your own felt letters, but ribbons, buttons and pom poms look great too.
There are many ways that you can insulate your windows this winter. The options that we have given here suit all budgets and tastes, and will have a significant impact on the heat lost from your home.
Have we missed any methods? Do you already do this at home yourself?
We would love to hear from you!
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